Ok. I've been reluctant to write about the holidays. I wish I had written about Thanksgiving. I was so overwhelmed and thankful during Thanksgiving. It was all about counting your blessings. Seriously, if we get out of our "ME" syndrome, and be honest, we have so much to be thankful for. I mean....We wake up each morning and we are breathing aren't we?!!! There is nothing more beautiful than a family who loves each other, no matter what, and enjoys being together. I know that when the rubber meets the road, my children will be there....that is such an overwhelming blessing.
It's Christmas now. The first Christmas, after Jerry went into his new "home", I didn't feel like being all "tra la, tra la." All I wanted to do was be with Jerry. So I told my kids that I couldn't pretend to be happy. I didn't want to go to the candle light service and smile and wish everyone a Merry Christmas. I wasn't Merry! So, I spent the time with Jerry, in the home, chatting with the nursing staff and just hanging around until late on Christmas Eve passing out cookies to the residents and seeing them smile. Then I drove up to Raleigh to wake up to Santa Claus. That's was ok, wasn't it?
Last year, the second year of Jerry not being with us, I had acclimated myself to the situation. Jerry was unaware of the actual day of Christmas. So I spent a lot of the time at his home, making wreaths with the residents, singing Christmas songs, then happily went to celebrate Christmas with my children and grandchildren. I was able to compartmentalized things. It worked. It was a happy time.
This year, the third Christmas, it's not quite as easy. I just can't get INTO Christmas. I hate that! The last thing I want to do is be a "kill joy", an Ebenezer Scrooge! I will admit that the emotions are trying to get the best of me, but I'm trying. Jerry is still eating enough to stay alive and it has just about broken my heart. I mean, "what are you doing GOD? Why is this suffering lasting so long"?
A friend reminded me today that "Jerry is not suffering." I suppose that is true, however, compared to what lies ahead in eternity, he IS suffering. This poor man, who remains calm and winsome, still would not want to be living this way.
So, how do we caregivers survive this suffering? Honestly, there is no sugarcoating it. This is suffering to watch your loved one disappear before your eyes, not know who you are, and be able to care for himself. This is suffering in sadness that lasts so long. BUT, dear ones, take heart. There is no one on this earth who will go without some kind of suffering. There is no escaping it!
So for me...the best way for me to cope with the suffering is to help someone else with their suffering. It takes me out of my own .....and into a place where I can help someone else.
This week, I've been painting healing ceiling tiles. This is an organization the installs artwork into the ceilings of cancer treatment centers. Sounds like such a little thing. But, in some small way, hopefully, it brings a spark of joy... a brief moment to bring a smile that takes the patient away from their battle with cancer..to a happy place. A happy place that brings them new energy to continue the fight. Each tile is dedicated to a loved one who is undergoing their battle with cancer.
With all that said....It is a good season. A season to give. The mindset of giving brings happiness to even the most difficult days. It's the Christmas Season. Merry Christmas!